Google has received some media attention recently because very soon Google will be launching their own E-books platform and online retail center. They will have a huge advantage even over Amazon.com due to their 40 million searches per day in the United States. E-book sales have started to skyrocket, revenues are expected to soon surpass traditional books. Google has already digitized over 10 million publications for their Google Books project and Google is now poised to take a big chunk of the retail action.
How Is Google Changing the world as we know it?
Maybe the better question to ask would be, “how has not Google changed the world as we know it.” Nearly every media company has been affected by Google. Besides Internet ads, radio, newspapers, TV, cable and movies have all been drastically affected by Google. Google is now a larger company than ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX combined. Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer criticizes Google as “a one trick pony” and most of their other ventures other than search have failed. To this Google founder Sergey Brin replied, while they may have just one trick, “We like the trick!” Google set out 10 years ago to become the first $100 billion media company and they are on track to hit that mark.
Google is the first business that has learned to monetize information in all its forms. Google has dominated over other search engines due to the quality of their results and the enormous power of their engine. However, they seem to place little value in those who they are benefiting from —the content providers. Without quality content Google wouldn’t have a company.
How Google Undermines Content Providers
When Google decided to scan every book ever published they didn’t see any reason to pay royalties to the publishers. A lawsuit ensued that took years to resolve, the verdict luckily favored the book publishing companies and now Google now is paying royalties to both publishers and authors of the books for which they provide search results.
Another lawsuit was filed by AP (The Associated Press) which provides most of the content for not only the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune, but most newspapers around the country. The AP is a non-profit entity set up by the publishers and has no website of their own. Since Google was indexing AP’s content and benefiting from their stories through Google News, like every other news source they index, Google saw no reason to pay royalties. However, unlike the hundreds of newspapers that run AP stories and benefit from the advertising they can sell on their newspaper websites, AP didn’t benefit at all from Google using their content. The result was AP is now paid royalties by Google. AP has actually thrived as the newspaper industry has collapsed, because newspapers are cutting local coverage and choosing to run even more AP national stories than they did before.
Local newspapers, magazines and independent journals have suffered not necessarily because of Google, but more because quality information has been cheapened due to the power of search. In so many respects quantity and popularity have been equated to quality in the minds of consumers and far fewer people are willing to pay money out of their pocket for information.
How Good Journalism Suffers as a result of Search Engine Optimization Practices
Google has benefited greatly by enhancing search performance by ranking the best content based on popularity, keywords and links. But this has not benefited those who produce the results worth finding, as much as it has those with the ability to perform SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Thus, quality journalism with in-depth analysis is suffering but the speed and number of individual voices that can be heard is thriving. But word to the up and coming bloggers: learn SEO and adopt it into your content.
Will the Brave New Virtuality Arrive?
Will there could come a world, where we feel Google is a complete necessity, as valuable as a telephone or a car? Will Google one day produce results through its algorithms telling us what we want to do and wish to by? Now that Google has entered into producing their own media and providing their own services, they have a huge advantage in being the number one search portal for most Internet users. The latest complaints are from competitors who has seen their page ranks decline in the arenas that Google has decided to compete in, such as travel. If Google controls the results of what people search for and works to ever improve their search algorithms and data on users, eventually Google could know what you are looking for before you even know yourself.
Targeted search will get there. Some day you might be asking Google what to buy for little Tommy. Like Netflix’s sophisticated movie recommendation algorithms —produced by understanding users personalities through the movies they like—the next step is for Google and the other cloud engines is understanding you and your kids better than you know them or yourself.
Google’s slogan is “Don’t be evil.” Google has done more harm than good in “democratizing information”, the problem in the way they do business is they believe the power of search is a more valuable asset than the quality of the results. Google is not evil just because they have become so incredibly successful, but if they took some steps to promote and reward quality journalism and information, instead of working so hard to track every detail on users, they could aid in avoiding the Brave New Virtuality we are headed towards.
Much of the information from this article was from the book Googled: The end of the World as We Know it by Ken Auletta.
*visit the Utah Stories archives for this complete story of how Main Street Salt Lake City was traded for malls.